Microsoft

Screenshots: The Windows 8 Reset your PC feature

You can choose how thoroughly you want to clean the drive

Choosing a cleaning method

Once you choose a drive, you'll then see the next screen, shown in Figure G, which prompts you to choose how fully you want to clean your drive. As you can see, you can choose to just remove your files or fully clean your hard disk. The option you choose will depend on the reason that you are resetting your PC in the first place. For example, if you are simply resetting your PC to give yourself a completely new start, you'll probably want to select the Just remove my files option. On the other hand, if you are going to be passing your PC on to someone else, you may want to choose the Fully clean the drive option.

If you choose the Just remove my files option, Windows RE will simply perform a Quick Format operation on the hard disk. This procedure simply deletes the file table that contains pointers to the actual data files. It doesn't actually delete the data nor does it actually modify the disk sectors containing the data in anyway.

If you choose the Fully clean the drive option, Windows RE will perform a full format of the hard disk that will include a much more methodical and secure erasure of your data. This includes several passes over the hard disk writing 0's and then other random numbers to every sector on the hard disk. Of course, this will take a longer to perform.

Credit: Images by Greg Shultz for TechRepublic

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Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.